- Showing 2 posts filed under: Practice [–], Support [–] published between Jan 01, 2011 and Jan 31, 2011 [Show all]
The Virginia Center for Restorative Justice
How does a community establish a restorative justice program? It happens at the local level when committed individuals decide to make it happen. Take the Virginia Center for Restorative Justice (VCRJ), for example, a nonprofit established late last year in Richmond, Virginia.
VCRJ was founded by its Executive Director, Judy Clarke, a woman whose commitment to restorative justice is grounded in her abiding faith in God and in the fundamental goodness of humanity. But this journey began for Judy many years ago when she visited the Richmond City Jail for a day with a group of business leaders who were charged with finding a solution to the jail’s problems.
Crossing the divide
It has often been my experience that restorative justice can span the conservative-liberal divide. Concerns for victims and for reducing the costs of imprisonment are often common to both. The concept of offenders facing up to what they have done makes intuitive sense to many. Values such as responsibility, respect and relationship are often shared along the spectrum. What we mean by these values and ideas, however, and what motivates us to embrace them, are crucial issues.
The lessons to be gleaned from the movement against indeterminate sentencing in the U.S. are instructive. Eventually both progressives and conservatives came together to replace indeterminate sentences with determinate sentences motivated by a just deserts philosophy. The resulting lengthened mandatory sentences dramatically increased the prison population. While there was some confluence of policy positions, the underlying values and motivations of the various parties were quite different. The results have been in many ways catastrophic.